Archive for the ‘Small Tool Chest’ Category

Small Tool Chest – Goes to Work

January 12, 2014 14 comments

Here it is! A completed Paul Sellers’s design tool chest!


A quick run down of the chest’s features and joinery. 

20131019-200250.jpg 20131026-202544.jpgThe carcass of the tool chest is made from 7/8″ Sapele as a single box, then separated with a hand saw to produce the lid. The rail between the two drawers has a mortised dovetail that adds additional strength and a little character that is missed unless you look carefully.  This portion of the project provides great opportunity to practice not only joinery skills, but hand planing skills. When the lid and box are separated it takes some time to get the required fit. The ever changing grain of the Sapele added to the challenge.

Hand cut mortise and tenon joints are used to produce the top and bottom frames. The top panels were raised by hand using a #4 stanley plane and the grooves with a veritas plow plane.


Building the drawers required half blind dovetail joints, a housing dado with wedged through tenons and drawer pulls.



Finally the chest was finished with two coats of shellac and two coats of polyurethane followed with wax. A very satisfying project with many enjoyable techniques. This is a project from Paul Seller’s Masterclass Series. As tools begin to fill the drawers, my mind wanders to future projects; stools, desks, chests and other great challenges.

Small Tool Chest – Installing Hinges

January 12, 2014 3 comments

Installing hinges has never been a difficult task as long as they are marked carefully and care is taken to chisel to the gauge lines, corners are cleaned well and the bottom is level. installing the screws is where my problems begin.




I used an awl to mark the center of the holes. drilled carefully, added soap to ease the screws in and installed 11 of twelve with no problem.However I must have shortchanged the brass gods; therefore the requisite broken screw AAAGGGHHHHHH!.


Making a Drawer Pull

December 29, 2013 1 comment

20131228-124952.jpg Purchasing drawer knobs and pulls in a store  always leaves me with a sense of impending doom. A regular maintenance item around the house seems to be the pull from a cabinet, knob from a drawer or door knob falling off. It isn’t the knob or pull that is at fault but the method that is used to fasten it to the door or drawer.

I laugh when my mind pictures the look on my children’s faces as a knob comes off in their hand. It is a look of puzzlement and amazement. Puzzlement because the drawer did not open, and amazement that they have a super human strength that can separate a knob from a drawer.



Fresh from reattaching a kitchen drawer pull, a smile appeared on my face when Paul Sellers’s posted a video on woodworking masterclasses that demonstrated how to make and install a drawer pull for the small tool chest. Covering my bench with tools, shavings and glue I managed to take a two hour process and turn it into an all day project……

The drawer pull begins with four pieces of wood, carefully milled flat and square. The top and bottom of the pull are made from 3/16″ material . The pieces are curved along the length and the edges rounded over. I made the curve using a chisel and #4 plane, smoothing the curve with a rasp. The edges are rounded over with a mill file and the piece is sanded smooth.

Next I take on of the two pieces of 1q/2″ x 5/8″ and cut the tail of a dovetail, then I cut the tail in half so that I can create a half lap joint in the center of the other piece.















Once the pieces are glued together I used a chisel and rasp to cure the  piece to match the curve on the other two pieces. Then I glue all of the pieces together and use my clamp to hold them in place until the glue dries.















When the glue is dry a little sanding and the pull is complete. Repeating the process produces a second pull for the other drawer.

These pulls are made from scraps of Sapele from the chest, but I can see possibilities of using different colors of wood to produce different effects. imagine the look a this pull with the center piece made of walnut or blood wood. It’s been a great day and I am very satisfied with the results. Now I have to wait for the hinges, install the pulls and do a little final fit and finish.





Small Tool Chest – Drawers

December 25, 2013 Leave a comment

20131215-184953.jpgWith the pinned housing joints complete, only a couple of steps left to complete the drawer. Mahogany plywood was cut to fit into the grooves and slid into place. I carefully drilled holes for 5 screws that will hold it. I then cut several 1.5″ pieces of wood and glued them into the edges of the drawer and bottom of the plywood. When the glue dries it will tighten the drawer bottom and prevent any banging of the plywood in the groove. You’re saying to yourself – what about expansion…….hopefully with plywood there will be very little.

Another design aspect that you may not have picked up, the back of the drawer is 2.5 inches in from the end of the sides. When the drawer is open the back can align with the case without the drawer falling out of its slot. If you are like me, anything buried in the last few inches gets lost anyway.

Next? I have to install hinges (in the mail somewhere), make drawer pulls (they’re a great design), and smooth the case….Have a Great Christmas!



Small Tool Chest – Pinned Housing Joints

December 16, 2013 4 comments

20131215-184819.jpg Now that I have the drawer front and sides complete, I need to cut the mortises for the bottom. Nothing special about this process. I use my plow plane with a 3/16 blade and cut one in the front and each side. The unique part of these drawers is how the back is mortised and pinned into the sides.

There are several ways to connect the back to the sides, dovetails, mortise and tenons, screws etc. Each of these work in its own way; for this project I was introduced to a method I have not seen before. A mortise is cut at the rear of each side and then a through mortise is cut through the side to house a pin. The pin is then held in place with wedges.

I hope the pictures are self explanatory…This is a great joint, adds character to the drawer and I don’t anticipate any chance of a joint failure in the future.









Small Tool Chest – Half Blind Dovetails

December 15, 2013 4 comments

20131215-184703.jpgI have a fair amount of confidence in my through dovetails. Generally they come out well and only occasionally do I have to make a repair or repeat a cut. Half Blind dovetails is a different experience. In fact I have no experience at all and when I have made drawers that required a clean face I have made through dovetails and used a face board.

I begin by preparing stock for the two drawers. The front of the drawer is obviously Sapele. The sides and back could be Sapele, but I like the look of contrasting woods so I dig through my offcuts and come up with poplar and Oak. The key to any dovetail is to begin with well prepared stock that has square edges.I carefully plane the sides then take a few minutes to sharpen my blade and smooth the end grain. Two years ago I would have hesitated before planing the ends and left them to the saw cut from a table saw. Now I just sharpen the blade and plane three quarters of the way across from one side, Reverse the board in the vice and finish up the work . There is something particularly satisfying when smoothing end grain. The blade makes a crisp sound and if all is right the grain comes away like flowers of a petal.



The next task is to lay out the dovetails and sides. Experience tells me that the clearer you mark your work the less chance for a mistaken cut. I always take the time to mark each line and then mark the material to be removed with an X. It guides the cuts, ensures I place the saw on the correct side of the line and reveals what the work should look like when completed. In the picture you can see that I am using a backer board for the cut. This board will be used to transfer the cut lines from one side of the drawer to another ensuring a perfect match.

I saw out the tails for both sides of the first drawer and then pause realizing that I need to resharpen my saw. I’ve been sharpening my own saw’s for the past year and have found it a fairly easy task. I tend to wait too long before resharpening saws however, making the task more difficult than it should be. After five minutes I finish off the tails for the second drawer and begin layout of the  pins. This is where I am moving into new territory with the half blind pins.

I am following Paul Seller’s method that he demonstrated when I was in his class. I’m certainly glad that I took detailed notes and follow them for this task. There seem to be many ways to cut all manner of dovetails and it is fun to look around the internet and listen to people’s passionate explanations of  

20131215-185058.jpghow their method is best. This is the only way I know how to cut half blind dovetails so I have no experience for comparison. It takes me a couple hours to chop out and fit all of the pins and when I am done I am fairly satisfied.

My only regret is not using the red oak for all of the sides. It is much prettier and I am more satisfied with the crisp lines that I leave after chopping away the wood.


A tense moment Small Tool Chest

December 1, 2013 3 comments

Before I attached the lid of the tool chest I marked the cut line for the lid. I’m now physically prepared to make the cut. Notice I say physically, the chest is positioned, saw is sharp, cut lines marked……mentally however I’m a little concerned.

Sawing a straight line all the way around the carcass looks to be a little tricky so I clamp a guide to help me get started. Then using a panel saw I progress one edge at a time around the chest. Changing my hand hold on the saw gave me more control as I attempted to stay between the marks. Finally the cut is complete. I’ll need to take some time with a plane to clean up the edges, find some hinges, then I can begin the drawers.
















A Defining Moment – Lid Attached

November 29, 2013 2 comments

Attaching the lid is similar to the bottom with the exception that I will not use screws. I don’t want the plugs on the top of the chest and it is not supporting much weight. The challenging part about the lid attachment is the preparation I need to make for the following step, separation of the lid from the carcass.

There is a very slight bend in the front board of the chest and I realize that I can take the bow out when I attach the lid but when I saw it apart the bow will return to the lower portion. To prevent this I measure the upper shelf and cut it to size. After the lid is separated I will be able to squeeze the shelf into place on the lower part and know that it is not bowed. The shelf is made from 1/4″ mahogany plywood. I use a marking knife to ensure there are no splinters.



After sharpening my plane, time is spent smoothing the carcass and ensuring the lid fits leaving no gaps. I enjoy the sound of the plane as it slices through the grain and it only takes a few minutes to smooth everything. A sharp blade is a must when doing this work.



When the Dovetails were laid out we left a thicker tail where the lid was to be separated. Using my marking gage I locate the larger tail and mark off the location of the cut. It is 1/8″ wide and I cautiously mark around the entire carcass. I have worried about forgetting this step since to glue the lid on prior to marking would be a major problem. Marking a 1/4 inch around the lid I use my plane to form a round over, then I’m ready for glue up.




20131129-130316.jpg There is a defining moment in each project when you can see the finished project. Now that I have the carcass, bottom and lid in place I can step back and look at the dimensions and evaluate the chest. I like the way it looks and the simplicity makes the joints stand out. The next stage is to separate the lid and build the drawers. First I carry the chest into the house so that the glue can bond where it is warm!

Attaching the Bottom, Small Tool Chest

November 24, 2013 1 comment

Fall is definitely yielding to the incoming winter today. I wandered into the garage this morning and it was a balmy 38 degrees (3 C) and after turning on the heater, wandered off to walk the dog. Hand work is a little tough when it is this cold and giving the heater an hour to take the chill out of the air will make a big difference. Outside the temperature is hovering in the low teens and the ground crunches under my feet from the heavy frost. The cool breeze on my cheek, beautiful blue sky and quiet of the morning make up for the chill.

Back inside I realize that I need to make some progress today and get the top and bottom lids finished and glued up. Hopefully this will put me in position to get the drawers done after Thanksgiving.

Spending quite a bit of time on the carcass I check the fit and finish, look for alignment issues and any gaps. Once the bottom is attached it will become much more difficult to scape away any tear out and any gaps will become a permanent reminder of a rushed morning.


Placing the entire carcass in my vice makes the entire process much easier. When I bought the vise earlier this year I debated on the size I needed . It seemed a little extravagant to purchase one with a 15″ opening at the time but I have not regretted it. As I work the piece with planes and scrapers it is rock solid, at a great height and easy to reposition. My only regret is that I wish I had mounted it a 1/2 inch further out from the bench to allow more room to get my fingers behind a board.




I test fit the bottom and make some more adjustments to remove any gaps and then prepare for the glue up. The bottom will be attached with glue and screws to ensure that it can support the weight of the drawer above. The screws will be counter sunk and I will plug them at some point. Once glued, I placed the box inside to allow the glues to cure at a reasonable temperature.

Small Tool Chest Raised Panels

November 18, 2013 1 comment

20131117-200737.jpgUntil 6 months ago I would have never considered making raised panels with a smoothing plane. Actually, I would not have a plane sharp enough to make raised panels. The bottom panel is a piece of 1/4″ plywood. It will never be seen and the chest is quite heavy without the additional weight of a panel.

Making raised panels is much quicker by hand unless you are making a large number. It took me 15 minutes for each panel for a total of 30 minutes. I don’t think I could find my router bits in that time. The most frustrating part of this process has been trying to flatten the panels. We have been through multiple weather changes since I first cut the panels and I have planed them flat twice and one of the has a vicious cup already.

Once flattened I mark out the desired thickness of the panel edges using a marking gage and then pencil in guide lines for the  raised panel on the top. Placing the panel in my vise I plane back and forth at my desired angle careful to maintain a 45 degree cutting angle on the end grains. I repeat this for all of the sides on each panel. Next I flip the panels over and repeat the process until the panels fit neatly into the grooves. Glue up next.